Gulf | Yemen

Yemen could ban motorbikes in capital over attacks

Dozens of security officials killed by assailants using motorbikes

  • By Saeed Al Batati, Correspondent
  • Published: 09:05 January 4, 2013

Sana'a: The bike-borne attacks have continued to claim lives of dozens of security officials in Yemen for the third consecutive year. However, the recent increase in deadly attacks have moved the government to suggest a temporary ban on use of motorbikes in the capital where most of the attacks took place.

The Ministry of Interior said in a recent report that attacks by masked gunmen riding motorbikes killed 40 soldiers throughout Yemen in 2012.The report said that motorcycles  were used as a main tool to commit 66 crimes which included killing or intending to kill officers from state’s intelligence and other security apparatuses. Most of these crimes occurred in the capital, provinces of Lahj, Hadramout, Taiz and Dhale.

Shift

The hit-and run attackers have became bolder and targeted security officials in capital in broad daylight. On December 25, a gunman riding a motorbike approached brigadier Fadel Al Radfani, an adviser to the defence minister, and shot him dead in one of the busiest parts of the capital. The officer was left bleeding in the street and the attacker fled. The attacker is still at large and it is not known yet who carried out the attack.

Question

Yemen parliament summoned on Wednesday minister of interior, Abdul Gader Gahtan and Chief of the General Staff, Ahmad Ali Al Ashwal, and questioned them about the recent surge of assassinations of security officers and continuing lapse of security in the capital and other cities.

As journalists were prevented from covering the session, local media outlets depended on some leaks from MPs who were present.

The minister told the MPs that primary investigations have shown the attacks bear the hallmarks of Al Qaida as they used similar methods to target security personal.

News website Al Masader reported that the minister said security forces are following some suspected people.

Despite not clearly blaming any group for the attacks, the minister admitted that many of security apparatus still contain thousands of personnel who worked with the former regime, signaling the involvement of some elements loyal to the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The minister said that motorbikes are posing a real security problem and there are over 200.000 motorbikes in Yemen with 15.000 are only in the capital. Indentifying the owners of the motorbikes is difficult since many of them are unregistered and do not carry number plates.

Temporary ban

The minister asked the MPs to support his suggestion for banning motorbikes in the capital for two months till they all registered. But in a poor country like Yemen with high percent of unemployment ,imposing such restriction may not go without any aggressive reaction from motorcyclists . Motorbikes are used as a cheap mean of transportation and sources of livelihood for many families, especially in the capital.

Accusations

Almost after each assassination attack, Yemen rivals immediately use the incident to pin the blame on each other. None of them  has ever presented a concrete evidence to flesh out such allegations.

Opponents of Saleh has repeatedly accused him and some of his remaining powerful loyalists of backing Al Qaida to derail political settlement. On the other hand, Saleh accused unity government, which his party shares half of it, for being unable to put an end to assassinations and restore  stability. Southern secessionists activists accuse what they call as "the northern occupation forces" of deliberately targeting security forces who hail from the south to undermine their cause for reviving the former South Yemen state. The secessionists call for termination of unity deal in 1990 between South and North that brought into  existence the current republic .

"Since the occupation forces did not identify the group responsible for attacks on security forces, we accuse them of planning the attacks. This is part of declared  war on the South." a secessionist activist said .

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